Tag Archives: life

The Power of Silence.

I stepped out of the crowded train, grumbling under my breath. The night air a peculiar mix of petrichor and a stench of sweat. I whipped my bag off, it was soaking wet, trying to find the umbrella that I usually kept. I searched frantically but couldn’t find it. Before I even opened the other compartment I was rudely reminded; my sister had taken it just this morning, the anger I felt was blinding.

The drizzle turned to torrential rain, lashing against the metallic shelter; under which crowds of frantic people were now running helter-skelter. I went down the stairs and took a right, as my path opened into the night; I stood just away from the grasp of the wet ground, waiting for the rain to subside. I cursed at sour lady luck, repeatedly used an expletive that rhymed with “truck”, wishing tonight had been a little different and I wasn’t here, cranky and stuck.

As I stood there with a blank stare, muttering quietly in despair, I suddenly smelt a delicious fragrance diffused into the damp air. I looked around like a wide-eyed owl, with a confused expression and a curious scowl, and as I spotted the little sandwich shop, my stomach let out an angry growl. I sprinted towards the store my heart in a little flutter, the aroma of grilled cheese and burnt butter on the side of crusty bread was making my mouth water. Two minutes after that, I stood with two grilled sandwiches in my hand, happy that this night was finally doing something except wanting to get me mad.

Fatigued and famished from all that waiting, I was salivating as I moved in for the first bite. But then I saw something else in the night that made me stop before I could eat. In a dark corner across the street, sat a man alone, on the stone pavement just a few feet away from where I stood. He sat still with closed eyes, arms raised to the open skies, his lips moving in quiet prayer for the Gods that I couldn’t see. His clothes were riddled with gaping holes, so were his shoes with torn soles; he shivered involuntarily every time a raindrop kissed his skin with jarring cold.

I covered one sandwich with a paper plate, hoping to preserve it from the rain, as I walked carefully in his direction I could see and feel his sorry state. As I stood before him, I could hear his breathing; rugged and heavy, the words receding, fading into the sound of raindrops crashing against everything. I tapped his shoulder and he opened his eyes, registering a look of sudden surprise. I lowered the plate and he lowered his arms, his eyes dropped their gaze from the skies.

When he spotted the food, a giant plateful, he looked at the heavens and prayed, immensely grateful. He gazed at me then, all the while, his lips stretching into a smile as I looked at him and returned the gesture. I stood over him and watched him eating, savoring every tiny bite even with the rain beating furiously against his skin. The sight made my heart melt so fast, I opened my sandwich and sat next to him.

For the next 15 minutes two strangers sat; with a pact of silence, both soaked and damp. Words unspoken, the quiet unbroken, yet one of the best conversations I’ve ever had. After I finished my treat, I got off my seat and smiled at him one last time. I turned around, without a sound, and quietly walked off into the night. A heart uplifted with new found hope, body and soul thoroughly soaked, I looked back at what I’d left, and I saw him embracing his torn, old cloak. Before he faded into the dark, I saw him slowly lifting his arms; the inaudible prayer resumed in all its glory-probably tranquil whispers of our story. He sat still again in pious defiance, amid the thundering of nature’s violence; I looked up and prayed for him, hoping the Gods could hear the power of silence.

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How I Found Home Again.

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I had never felt so uncomfortable in a place that I had come to call my second home. The small, muddy ground with two rusty goalposts at each end had always been reassuringly familiar to me; but not on that one night. Over the past year, I had covered every inch of the ground more than a thousand times; right from the first day of college to the last day of the university team trials. I loved the ground so much that my once gleaming, white Star Impact Spectras were now permanently coated with a dull brown tinge that so often ended up on my shirts after rough falls. My legs had almost memorized the physical attributes of the turf; how the far left corner was slightly elevated and how a little patch halfway up the ground was particularly hard to sprint on. I can embarrassingly admit, I didn’t even know my girlfriend as intimately as I knew about the little, muddy pitch in the centre of my college.

When Mom’s cancer happened, I was forced to see two of my most cherished things in the world spiral towards unimaginable predicaments. With Mom’s steadily deteriorating health, I was slowly starting to spend more and more time away from the little field I used to practice in. I sorely missed what it once made me feel – the thrills of exquisitely timed sliding tackles, the earthy aroma of petrichor during rainy football sessions, the joys of the wind beating against my chest while sprinting; the sheer nostalgia of memories was overwhelming. Those poignant shards of a shattered imagination were now replaced with far graver memories.

On that night, I stood once again on the same ground after God knew how much time. The sound of gravel scrunching beneath my shoes felt like listening to a song that I had long forgotten, but one that I suddenly rediscovered on the radio. I could hear the crowd roaring and the bright floodlights illuminating the field radiantly, lending its brown colour an alluring, lustrous glow which I think it always deserved. I had been there so many times before; soaking in the pressure, the crippling expectations and the electric atmosphere. But that night was different. It was strange for me, this feeling. I had built my footballing reputation on being a calm central midfielder who feared little. But on that night, I felt nervous and uneasily anxious. The worst thing was that I was fully aware of why it was happening.

I didn’t look on my right-hand side because I knew she was watching me. I also knew she understood little about the game; had no clue about the intricate tactics, the industrious endeavor and the orchestrated teamwork it required to assert one team’s supremacy over the other. All I knew was that I would mean the same to her on the pitch as I did off it. She cared little about my team or the opposition’s, she was only going to watch me and be oblivious to the rest of the world. In 18 years of my life out of which I had spent 10 playing the beautiful game, this was the first time that she had come to watch me play. That night, I wanted to give her something to smile about after what had been a tumultuous few months for all of us.

I still remember how it felt the same way like my first match did. My legs felt like jelly, my stomach had turned so violently that it felt like someone had tied my guts into a scout’s knot. I couldn’t focus, I was sweating and the game hadn’t even begun. Trust me, there is nothing worse than sudden self-doubt on the big stage; that one moment when you completely forget your very purpose of existing. That horror of letting everything unravel when it matters to most was terrifying to me.

When I heard the whistle, it took me a few seconds to register that the game had kicked off. It was like the world had dropped its burdens on my shoulders, but I told myself that nothing mattered more to me than the lady who got up from a hospital bed after a chemotherapy to watch her son do what he loved. I wasn’t going to let her down, I knew I wouldn’t forgive myself if I did. Failure was unacceptable on any night; but tonight it was simply unthinkable. I had no way of knowing if she would ever watch me play again, so I knew had to make this one performance count.

Over the course of the next 20 minutes, I played like a man possessed. I dived recklessly into tackles, ran twice as hard as the man I was supposed to mark, and constantly told myself that this was just another game. I don’t think my body was listening. By halftime I looked like I had taken a momentary dip in the college’s heritage well; my head was aching with the lack of composure that usually regulated my body’s physical output. It was then that I realized what my fear truly meant. And for the first time since the match started, I smiled.

I realized that I felt different because that night, I wasn’t playing for myself anymore. I was playing for someone else, someone far more important. None of the hundreds in the crowd had ever seen what it took me to become the footballer I was, but the lady smiling quietly at one dark corner of the field certainly had. She had seen me caked in mud and exhausted from training camps, she had seen me in hospitals with sprained ankles and torn muscles, she had seen me distraught after defeat. She had witnessed and understood the true aspects of my art and my worth as an artist, which is why on that night, the weight of expectations felt heavier than it ever did before.

Before the second half began, I went up to her and talked to her. My heart felt lighter knowing that today, all I had to do to make her proud was just to be myself. Just like how I was the centre of her universe, she was all that mattered tonight and nothing else came remotely close. Win, draw or lose, it didn’t matter anymore; just knowing that she was watching me was all I could be grateful for.

I played the rest of the game with a heart that knew, for the first time that night, just what it had to do. I ran my socks off in the second half and also scored a goal that I still regard as the best of my life, considering who I owed it to. We drew the game 2-2, but the disappointment of the draw didn’t wipe the smile off my face for the whole night. The ground felt familiar once more, and I smiled again. She looked at me, she smiled too; and in that moment, I found my home again.

Peace in Pieces.

When she was six years old, I remember both of us standing in the street outside our house, looking at her birthday gift. A beautiful, brand new bicycle lay basking in the pale sunlight, the golden lustrous, metallic gleam of its body glowing soothingly on that summer morning in May. She stood transfixed; one tiny, petite hand clasping my index finger tightly, as she looked at the bicycle, almost petrified. “Where are the wheels on the side Daddy?” she asked me, her meek voice quivering and struggling to hide her anxiety. “Love, you’re a big girl now” I said, kissing her quietly on her forehead. As she warily clambered onto the bicycle seat, she looked at me; eyes swimming with tears but not a drop on her flawlessly, white cheeks. “Daddy, you won’t let go, will you?” she asked, while gazing continuously at me. “Never” I said, as I smiled at her, knowing perfectly well that sooner rather than later I would have to break my word.

Two days of skinned knees and bruised elbows later, she had finally learnt to find her feet. As she pedaled, smiling as the gentle breeze ruffled through her hair, I slowly let my hands slip off the bicycle. Unaware, she kept pedaling and then, she turned back. Her expression immediately turned from one of immense peace to morbid paranoia. Deserted by balance, abandoned by composure, her bicycle swerved dangerously to the left and she collided against a brick wall. Horrified, I sprinted by her side, as I saw the tears from two days ago flowing freely from her innocent green eyes. “Why did you do it daddy?” she asked, life’s first lesson in betrayal clearly shaking her steadfast beliefs in the ways of the world.  I told her “Until you learn to let go, my love, you, I and us will never find peace or purpose.”

When she was 16 years old, I stood outside her bedroom, one day after her birthday. I gently knocked on the locked door, and heard a gentle click in return. The door quietly swung open, revealing a dark room, dimly lit by pale lights. The bed sheets lay strewn all over the place, as she stood by the door, traces of tears all over her face. “Why did he do this Daddy?” she asked me, her voice quivering like that day ten years ago. Gently letting my finger wipe her tears, I said “Love, you’re a big girl now.” I kissed her forehead and she hugged me and cried, broken emotions and gasps trying to soothe what was dying inside. I slowly slipped my hands onto her and clasped it, as our fingers reveled in each other’s familiar, warm touch. “Daddy, you won’t ever let go, will you?” she asked, her probing, green-eyed gaze searching the depth of my soul for any lies. “Never” I said, as I smiled, knowing perfectly well that my body was aging faster than my child’s.

Just as my eyes silently moved about her room, they immediately rested on a pile of papers on her bed. Instinctively, my fingers reached for one of them, as I opened the folded sheet to reveal an almost illegible, scrawny handwriting. Seeing the words “love” and “forever” repeated in every alternating sentence, there were no doubts in my head as to who these letters were from. I reached into my pocket, and pulled out my cigarette lighter. I flicked it on, and let the flame consume the paper; as the room grew a little brighter. As the black, carbon remnants disappeared into thin air; she looked at me and asked “Why did you do that daddy?” I just returned her gaze and repeated that lesson from a decade ago “Until you learn to let go, my love, you, I and us will never find peace or purpose.”

Two days after her 23rd birthday, I think she received the biggest birthday gift of her life. Her mellow, green eyes shone ever so bright; her enchanting, white wedding gown looked like it had been dipped in moonlight. Her laugh echoed in every corner of the church, her smile was the centre of the universe’s rapt attention. Of all the times I had told her to keep her tears at bay, I couldn’t keep mine away as they moistened my eyes. She walked up to me, as she saw me overwhelmed; she put one arm around me and asked “Why are you crying Daddy?” I fondly kissed her forehead, and said “Love, you’re a big girl now.” She smiled in relief, her beauty in the world, unparalleled. She held my hands together in hers and said “Daddy, you won’t let go, will you?” I used every ounce of restraint to stop from bursting into tears, as I managed to utter “Never.” In the midst of this atmosphere of harmony and tranquility, I knew I had lied because starting tonight, she would also be another man’s responsibility.

As I walked her down the aisle, I could see him standing at the end of the hall. She took tiny, nervous steps; just like when a bicycle stood waiting for her all those years ago. As I reached the end, I saw him take a few steps forward. I touched the silky, ebony coloured, tailored tuxedo he was wearing, gently squeezing his arm to try and make him feel the concoction of emotions bubbling inside my head. As he smiled at me, I raised my hand and slowly pulled off my wedding ring from my finger. As his expression changed to one of perplexed amusement, I handed him it to him. The weight of loyalty, the burden of responsibility would now be his. Today, I would give away the last fragment of a memory I could never make peace with. She looked at me in bewilderment, and incredulously asked “Why did you do that daddy?” I let my thumb caress her beautiful cheek, as I said “Until you learn to let go, my love, you, I and us will never find peace or purpose.”

At the age of 27, I remember standing outside her bedroom door. Same dusty walls, same musty floor. I knocked, and heard the familiar click I remembered from 11 years ago. She opened the door once more, dim room, heavy gloom hanging heavy inside it. The bed sheet was tidy though, as she stood in silence by the door. Black, blue, red and purple marks scarred her face and marred her beautiful skin; she sobbed and breathed heavily, like she was breaking from within. “Why did he do this daddy?” she asked me, the same question, wrapped with the weight of a million emotions. “Love, you’re a big girl now” I told her, as I gently brushed my lips against every scar on the realms of her skin. I could see her twitch in pain every time her hair fell over her face; so I brushed my fingers through her hair, holding her in a warm embrace. “Daddy, you won’t ever let go will you?” she asked me, breaking into exasperated tears. “Never,” I immediately quipped, despite knowing I had let her fall willingly, into a wife beater’s grip.

I let my hand slip over her hand, as it touched the wedding ring I gave her. I let my fingers grasp it, as I pulled it off her fingers. I put the ring in my right hand and asked her to walk with me. I helped her up as she rested her arm on my shoulder, hobbling on one foot on the cold marble floor. I opened the bathroom door as she let out dull moans and leaned against the wall. I walked right in, making sure her eyes were on me; as I stood right above the toilet. As she stared aghast, I dropped the ring into the toilet, as a faint clang shook both our hearts. One ring would flush down two memories now a distinct part of our past. Still numb from what I had done, she asked “Daddy, why did you do it?” Somehow, I felt she knew the answer even before I told her. “Until you learn to let go, my love, you, I and us will never find peace or purpose.”

At the age of 36, I remember both of us sitting on a bed facing the window on the street. The same street where 30 years ago, our little lessons all began. A saline drip lay attached to the bed’s base, the black, purple, blue marks from nine years ago, etched deeper and darker into her face. “Why did this happen daddy?” she asked him, with a hollow, resigned expression on her face. For the first time, in so many years, I did not have an answer to this.

She let her cold hands slide over mine and said “I’m a big girl now daddy,” gently rubbing my fingers against hers. In that moment, after 36 years, we finally found peace within the definitions of a curse. “Daddy, you won’t ever let go, will you?” her voice now reduced to a faint whisper. “Never” I said, as I finally broke, the floodgates within finally opened.  “But you have to let go, daddy” she smiled at me, as her hand pulled out the drip attached to her vein. I looked on in terror, as the words in my throat died as quickly as they came. “Why did you do this love?” I asked, faltering for breaths; everything around me now slowly crumbling. “Until you learn to let go, daddy, you, I and us will never find peace or purpose.”

For the rest of the night we sat and we talked, about 30 years worth of memories. Of lines crossed and time lost, in the depths of our insecurities. At three in the morning she took that one breath, for which I spent an entire lifetime in dread. But today, I live my life in peace because she finally understood everything I’d said. The only thing that hurts me now is emptiness which I alone, have to nurse. All until that one day, when I learn to let go too, and find my purpose.


Being God.

The winter’s scream now raged with fury, as the sun lost its powerful glow, 
the city was wrapped in a blanket of white, fearfully quiet in the realm of snow.
The embers in the fireplace stayed barely alive, trying to fight their natural foe,
The vice grip of ice grew even stronger, as the fire’s intensity dropped ever so low.

I looked outside for signs of defiance, anything that stood up to the elements in play,
the wind and the cold forged a powerful unison, proving unbeatable on that brutal day.
But as my eyes scanned the falling snow, I saw a barely visible speck in the distance,
whoever it was surely had nerves of steel, to even contemplate initiating a resistance.

The practicality of staying inside was gone, the scales tipped in curiosity’s favour,
How could I this miss a chance to learn, from someone on a mighty endeavour?
I slipped on my coat over 2 layers of clothes, and set my foot outside the main door,
Eagerly I shuffled through the heavy snow, imagining what explanations lay in store.

I walked into the cold and deserted street, as the speck I saw earlier grew bigger,
I kept on walking as my footsteps slowed, until I was directly above the cloaked figure.
The frail hooded person lay tortured by ice, a thick woolen blanket lay on his lap,
Confused at why he hadn’t used the blanket, I bent down and gave him a tap.

“Please use that blanket to cover yourself sir, this snowstorm is far from done.”
A hand reached up and the hood came down, and I saw that it was a woman.
Shocked by the revelation I kept on looking, as she looked back and shook her head,
“What are you doing in this cold my child? You should be at home snuggled in bed.”

It was amazing how the frost harassed her, and yet her voice remained ever so calm,
But what perplexed me was the unused blanket, one that could save her much harm.”
Pointing my finger at her lap I spoke “that could do you a world of good you know?
All you have to do is wrap it around you once, and it’ll keep out the horrible snow.”

She turned her head slowly and looked at me, smiling with a face all cold and sore,
“I certainly could do with warmth my son, but there is someone who needs it more.
I raised my eyebrows in obvious confusion, I guess she caught the look on my face,
She smiled again and beckoned me close, pointing between the blanket’s empty space.

I moved a step forward and slowly bent down, between the blanket I took a peep,
And within the covers lay 4 new born puppies, embraced by the arms of blissful sleep.
“ I could use the blanket and not give a damn, but my conscience will hurt me like knives,
I’d rather sit down and die with the cold, then let the world take these beautiful lives.

I’ve seen fate deprive the ones who are weak, so I’ve chosen to take up my stance,
The world can refuse to lend me a hand, but I’ll do whatever to give them a chance.
After all we mortals are forced to accept, that we worship destiny as the ultimate Lord,
I believe we are the masters of our own fates, although sometimes we need help from God.

So I became God for these helpless beings, and even though I‘m aware that I can’t do much,
I promise one thing to you and God above, as long as I’m alive they’ll be untouched.”
I stood in the snow bereft of any words, how could one perfectly acknowledge a noble thought?
Why was it that all the selfish souls were loafing, while selfless ones like her were left to rot?

“You are amazing!” I somehow managed to utter, and again I was left searching for speech,
Knowing that it was no less than extraordinary, avoiding that blanket just within her reach.
I stood up again and turned back around, the city now resembled a scene from the north pole,
I prayed for the lady as I walked back home, hoping she’d survive with the warmth in her soul.


Living for Love.

The pain shot through his body once more, his guts felt like they were on fire,

He didn’t know why or where exactly he was, everything around him was going haywire.

Blinded right now by the fine lines of age, which strangely never showed on his beautiful face,

He lay there struggling to control his fears, that this was perhaps the end of his days.

 

And suddenly he heard that amazing voice, quivering with so much grief that it ached,

“Hang in there sweetheart!” he heard her cry, he knew he had to survive for her sake.

His mind went back to their very first meeting, he was a little ball of fur just 2 weeks old,

He was blind then too but he heard her squeal, he remembered those seconds he spent in her hold.

 

Those moments of blindness felt surprisingly easy, her voice was the one thing that guided his being,

He loved feeling the warmth of her embrace, and how it overshadowed his need for seeing.

He remembered the first time he opened his eyes, eager to see the source of all the care,

A little girl stood beaming in front of his eyes, and all he could do then was stare.

 

Her smile was as warm as her million embraces, she radiated a glow that made time stand still,

He couldn’t recall being happier all his life, his tail was wagging like a windmill.

She lifted him up at least 5 feet off the ground, so he could gaze into those enchanting eyes,

“You’re so cute!” she screamed again and again, she was oblivious to her own beauty he realized.

 

The love between them stretched beyond infinity, to a point where they couldn’t exist without each other,

She was his mom, his dad, his sister, his lover, and he was her precious inseparable little brother.

They both grew up and grew even closer, something they both thought was impossible at the start,

He would lay at her lap after a long day of doing nothing, and she would pat him and pour out her heart.

 

She knew he understood not a single word she spoke, but her face portrayed a million emotions,

It smiled, it fell, it laughed, it swelled, after which he licked it (it tasted of make up and sunscreen lotion).

She scratched him always in all the right places, she even knew his favorite flavor of dog food,

In 13 years he never spoke a word that told her that, yet somehow she always understood.

 

Rage, chaos, heartbreaks- He’d seen it all, he watched himself crumble whenever she cried,

Sometimes he wished he was human so he could talk, and be more than just a listener at her side.

After all she’d done so much more for him he felt, those infinite smiles, the talking, a million miles of walking,

Of covering his ears when the thunder scared him, and sneaking biscuits into his Christmas stocking.

 

He remembered when his body became frailer, and when age started to hamper his sight,

She stood right beside him all day and night, whispering to him throughout his miserable plight.

Things never got better after that point, he knew he was now in an unwinnable fight,

His kidney failed and left him in pain, his stomach cramped and robbed his appetite.

 

Still she comforted him every minute of the day, patted out the creases of his constant frowns,

But it hurt him to know he was hurting her, every night he heard the sounds of her breaking down.

Then today it had all gone horribly wrong, as they rushed him through the hospital door,

He knew he had been pushed to the line beyond which he just couldn’t endure any more.

 

But her voice and the memories kept him alive, he wanted to keep fighting inspite of knowing it was tough,

Then he heard her footsteps come ever so close, as she whispered “Love, you’ve done enough.”

The wave of emotions that pushed him back, he really couldn’t bring himself to explain,

On one hand he was relieved she understood, on the other leaving her behind would be more pain.

 

Then suddenly he felt a little needle like prick, slowly penetrating one of his veins,

He could hear her sobs reach hysteria now, as the hour glass of life counted it’s final grains.

That moment overpowered his sense of calm, he knew that she’d notice his distress was showing,

He wanted to hear one last thing from her, and he wasn’t leaving without her knowing.

“I’ll never love anyone like I’ve loved you.” she whispered, she held his paws and then she weeped,

He heard those words and smiled in peace, and then drifted off into eternal sleep.